Buying or selling property?

Recent reports, released by CoreLogic, reveal the average number of days a house is on the market in Brisbane is 57 days.

Are you, or is someone you know, about to enter the property market?
We offer professional conveyancing at competitive, fixed prices and attend to all the details.

Obtain a FREE, no-obligation, personalised conveyancing quote here.

qslaw121.jpg

 

Welcome Nicole!

Quinn & Scattini Lawyers are excited to welcome Nicole Hamers.

Nicole joins us as a Lawyer in our Personal Injuries Team and will be based at our Brisbane Office. Nicole brings to Q&S over eight years legal experience.

Welcome Nicole!

dsc_0068

Congratulations Donna!

Quinn & Scattini Lawyers’ Property & Business Team Associate, Donna Yalg, recently received brilliant client feedback, further demonstrating Donna’s expertise in getting it right, from the start.

“Thank you Donna, You would have to be the most diligent solicitor I have dealt with in the past 20 years. Without your advice I am sure I would have been paying for my mistake for a long time. I would recommend you to all our friends and family, knowing they would be well looked after. Again, thank you. MS”

If you need EXPERT LEGAL ADVICE on PROPERTY OR BUSINESS please call Donna on 1800 999 529 or email Donna directly at dyalg@qslaw.com.au

Read more about Donna’s experience here.

donna-yalg

Have you been bullied or harassed in the workplace?

Allegations from employees that they have been bullied or harassed in the workplace are becoming more and more frequent in the landscape of pure psychological or psychiatric injuries in the workplace.

In these cases, there must be a consideration of the Workers’ Compensation & Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld) (“WCRA”) and the factual circumstances giving rise to the allegations of bullying and harassment.

There are significant limitations to accessing workers’ compensation for “pure psychological or psychiatric injuries” in the workplace and it is vital to seek legal advice as soon as possible to determine if you may have any entitlements to a WorkCover claim.

To be successful in lodging a claim for a pure psychiatric injury you must navigate the minefield that is s.32 of the WCRA.

What does s.32 of the WCRA say?

This section states that a person will have a successful application to statutory WorkCover benefits if they meet the following definition of “injury”:

  1. An injury.  In this context, a diagnosed psychiatric or psychological injury (for example, Depression or Adjustment Disorder or maybe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder amongst others); and
  2. That the injury arises “out of or in the course of employment”; and
  3. For a psychiatric or psychological injury – that employment is the “major significant contributing factor” to the cause of the injury.  What this means is that there will need to be an evaluation of any pre-existing psychological or psychiatric conditions suffered by you or an evaluation of “personal life stressors” that are or may be unrelated to employment which could be causing your condition.  This issue will be the subject of medical evidence from an appropriately qualified psychiatrist.
  4. In addition, a psychiatric or psychological injury does not include an injury which arises out of or in the course of the following:
    1. Reasonable Management Action taken in a reasonable way by your employer in connection with your employment;
    2. Your expectation or perception of Reasonable Management Action being taken against you;
    3. Action by the Workers’ Compensation Regulator or an Insurer (such as WorkCover) in relation to your Application for Compensation.

Usually, the success or otherwise of these claims hinge on evidence about whether or not the alleged “bullying and harassment” is or is not Reasonable Management Action taken in a reasonable way.

What are some examples of Reasonable Management Action (“RMA”)?

Section 32 sets out some brief examples of what may constitute RMA.  These include:

  • Action taken by your employer to transfer, demote, discipline, redeploy, retrench or dismiss a worker;
  • A decision not to award or provide promotion, reclassification or transfer of or leave of absence or benefit in connection with your employment.

Another common example is a decision of your employer to institute a Performance Improvement Plan (“PIP”) or similar in relation to your work. However, this list is not exhaustive and decisions by your employer which can be RMA are or may be wide-reaching.

Upon submitting an Application for Compensation and a Workers’ Compensation Medical Certificate, WorkCover will ask you to provide them with a list of “stressors”.

What is a List of Stressors?

A list of “stressors” is a brief list or summary of the matters that you say have caused your psychiatric or psychological injury.

The preparation of such a list can be a vital step in determining whether or not your application to WorkCover for workers’ compensation benefits will be successful.  It can require a complex consideration of a significant number of stressors or matters which have caused you stress, but there may be only a few which have actually led to the diagnosed psychiatric injury.

It is vital to take legal advice at such time that you are requested to prepare a list of stressors.

Simon Blackwood (Workers’ Compensation Regulator) v Mahaffey [2016] ICQ 010

This is a case in which the Personal Injuries Team at Quinn & Scattini recently had significant success in arguing in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (“QIRC”) and on appeal in the Industrial Court of Queensland (“ICQ”). We have used different names for privacy reasons.

In this case, the Appellant alleged that she was harassed, intimidated and bullied by her boss at Smith Constructions.  She was diagnosed with a psychiatric injury, as a result of which she lodged an application to WorkCover for her workers’ compensation benefits as a result of her medical practitioner certified her unfit for work.

Her application to WorkCover was initially accepted, however Smith Constructions appealed this decision to the Workers’ Compensation Regulator who overturned the decision of WorkCover.

The Appellant instructed our firm to represent her in relation to appealing this decision in the QIRC.

At the outset, the Appellant was requested to complete a list (or statement) of stressors.  She argued that her psychiatric injury was caused by the following:

  1. A hostile work environment as a result of her boss’ (Mr Long) abusive behaviour;
    Bullying and abuse by Mr Long of her and her observation of similar behaviour towards other employees;
  2. That she was not allowed rest breaks;
  3. That she was not provided with reasonable management action to appropriately and adequately deal with and manage hostile and abusive telephone calls by unsatisfied customers or creditors.

Some examples that the Appellant put forward in relation to the behaviour of her boss were:

  • That on a daily basis, Mr Long had a foul temper and on several occasions each week the Appellant would observe or hear him screaming, yelling and using profane language at her and other employees, for example:
    • On one occasion he said “Now what?” in a nasty tone;
    • On another occasion he said to the Appellant “F**k” and then snapped at her to close the door behind her when she approached him about a telephone message;
    • On yet another occasion the Appellant was asked to give her boss some photocopied documents.  As she approached him before he left for the day, he said to her “What the f**k now”.
  • Evidence of co-workers and the Appellant were consistent in establishing that Mr Long, the boss was volatile and would “go off” on a regular basis.  Evidence was presented that he would rant and rave and on one occasion he punched a wall. Another employee gave evidence that he threw a calculator in her direction, and yet another employee provided evidence that he threw files and papers in her direction.

The Appellant was successful in proving that her boss, Mr Long ran a business that was described by Deputy President Kaufman as “volatile” and that Mr Long’s behaviour was unacceptable and his demeanour created an environment in the office which was “extremely unpleasant to work in”.

This led the Appellant’s case to succeed.

However, in relation to the issue of the abusive phone calls, Deputy President Kaufman found that because the Appellant had complained about this issue to Daniel Evans, who was the Appellant’s supervisor and subsequent that Mr Evans had taken steps to address this issue, this issue was excluded by reason of Reasonable Management Action.  In addition, Deputy President Kaufman found no evidence to satisfy the allegation by the Appellant about the rest breaks and made no comment on this.

Ultimately, this decision was appealed by the Workers’ Compensation Regulator to the ICQ before Justice Martin on the basis that the injury should have been excluded in entirety because:

  • The injury should be excluded (in entirety) by the issue of the phone calls was reasonable management action;
  • That because Deputy President Kaufman made no finding about the issue of rest breaks that this was reasonable management action;
  • That Deputy President Kaufman was wrong in his interpretation of the stressor regarding hostile and bullying behaviour.

Justice Martin upheld the decision of Deputy President Kaufman and the Appellant was entitled to proceed and obtain her workers’ compensation benefits.  Justice Martin made a number of important and critical findings for the future management of these types of cases.  These are:

  • That a Statement of Stressors is not a requirement under any Act or Regulation.  It is a direction given in these types of matters.  It helps to identify those matters that the injured person says are the cause of the psychological/psychiatric injury and to confine the issues on appeal.

A Statement of Stressors is to assist in the determination of a workers’                              entitlements under WorkCover and is to be used as an aid only.

  • Where there is more than one interpretation available or uncertainty about the meaning of words used in the WCRA, that the WCRA is to be interpreted “beneficially” to the benefit of the worker, as the intention of the WCRA is to benefit the worker.
  • The ICQ favours the position that a worker can suffer an injury which should be compensated under the WCRA, even if RMA has had some causative effect.  Accordingly, if the QIRC finds that the relevant evidence and weighing up those factors are accepted as causing the personal injury, and the QIRC concludes that any conduct referred to as RMA does not displace the evidence in favour of the injured worker, then the injured worker succeeds.

Conclusion

If you have been injured at work, have attended with a medical practitioner and been diagnosed with an injury, you must make your Application for Compensation to WorkCover within 6 months of the date of your injury, or the date you first obtained medical advice.

If WorkCover rejects your Application for Compensation you have 3 months in which to lodge your Appeal to the Workers’ Compensation Regulator.

As these cases often involve “stressors” which have occurred over a period of time, you need to seek legal advice as a matter of urgency.  You may be prevented from suing your employer in negligence if you have failed to lodge Court proceedings within 3 years of the date of your initial injury.

If you have been bullied and harassed in the workplace, it is vital that you seek legal advice as a matter of urgency to determine any prospects of success and/or to protect your time limits.  What the above case of shows is that bullying cases are extremely complex and success can depend on the own facts of each individual case.  These matters usually require legal intervention early on in proceedings in an effort to protect your time limits.

candice-heisler

We are hiring!

We are currently in the search for an experienced Receptionist to join our Mermaid Beach Office, on a full-time basis.

Please see below position description for more details.

For confidential discussions, please contact Laria Ryder on 07 3222 8222.

If you know someone who might be interested in this role, please share!

Headline image.PNG

Receptionist - Mermaid Beach.jpg

No property settlement is too complex

Reaching a just and equitable outcome is often the main concern when facing a property settlement.

Our expert lawyers arm you with individually tailored strategies to combat any complexities that may arise, so you can confidently make some of the most important financial decisions you will ever make and achieve the best possible result.

If you need EXPERT ADVICE on a PROPERTY SETTLEMENT contact our Family Law experts on 1800 999 529 or email us directly at mail@qslaw.com.au.

Find out more about property settlements here.

divorce-property-settlement-697x285

We are hiring!

An exciting opportunity exists for an experienced Senior Accounts Manager (or Qualified Accountant) to join Quinn & Scattini Lawyers, based at our Brisbane office.

Please see below position description for more details.

For confidential discussions, please contact Laria Ryder on 07 3222 8222.

If you know someone who might be interested in this role, please share!

senior-accounts-manager_page_1senior-accounts-manager_page_2